Windows 7 Could Be Making An Early Debut

Seattle-based system builder Puget Systems, in a Friday statement posted to its Web site, said customers that place orders now will be placed in a queue for shipment and will begin receiving fully configured and tested Windows 7 PCs as early as October 13.

Jon Bach, president of Puget Systems, says Microsoft seems to think Windows 7 will take about 10 days to make its way through the supply chain, but he expects the actual time to be much shorter than that. System builders like Puget Systems enjoy a level of flexibility that enables them to be first to market in these types of scenarios, he added.

"We're in the process of getting systems built, tested and benchmarked, so that all we have to do is install Windows 7, which should take about an hour for each machine," Bach said in an interview. Puget Systems is working with multiple distributors as a safety net to stave off any availability issues that may arise with Windows 7, he added.

On Oct. 12, Microsoft will allow its Authorized Replicators to begin shipping Windows 7 to Microsoft OEM Authorized Distributors, a Microsoft spokesperson said in an email.

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"As the fulfillment process through our supply chain takes time, we begin initial product distribution in advance of General Availability. Therefore, this represents our Release To Manufacturing (RTM) process for OEMs who purchase indirectly through Distribution," said the spokesperson.

Although a system builder could theoretically get Windows 7 product before the official Oct. 22 general availability date, Microsoft's supply chain analysis from past Windows releases indicates that customers should receive Windows 7 PCs from system builders close to that date, added the spokesperson.

Microsoft released Windows 7 to manufacturing in July and has since made it available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers, volume licensing customers, and Gold and Certified partners through the Microsoft Partner Network portal, which means consumers, and the smallest of businesses, are the only ones still waiting to get their hands on Vista's successor.